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Citizenship and its exclusions: the sexual contract Week 8 2013 - 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Citizenship and its exclusions: the sexual contract Week 8 2013 - 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Citizenship and its exclusions: the sexual contract Week

2 Introduction Theme 2: sexual politics When we talk about the politics of sex or sexual politics what do we mean? We mean: power relationships between men and women in both formal groups or institutions in the public sphere as well as in the family which is consigned to the private sphere but which feminists have fought hard to show is not a private matter.

3 Sexual politics includes Sexual politics refers to: politics of motherhood (including contraception and abortion) politics of child care. Politics impinges also upon marriage divorce womens right to work outside the home their participation in the armed forces Pornography advertising

4 Citizenship – formal and real In liberal democracies, suffrage is the hallmark of citizenship. But, the right to vote is only one part of citizenship and other basic political and legal rights also have to be part of the equation. If citizenship is to be meaningful in everyday life and of equal worth to all citizens, then each individual must be accepted as an equal participant in all areas of social and political life. Citizenship is not just problematic for women; not all men are full and equal members of their polities. Poor men; men from a variety of racial and ethnic groups are politically marginalised or discriminated the world over. But women face certain problems which dont affect men.

5 Lecture outline 1.The social contract 2.Pateman and the sexual contract 3. How can women/feminists challenge these exclusions?

6 The social contract Pateman – feminist critique of social contract theory She argues that the social contract incorporates a sexual contract which excludes women from the political arena Idea of social contract is metaphor for understanding government Hobbes (1651), Locke (1690), Rousseau(1762): government should be for and by the people

7 Hobbes To avoid the brutishness of nature, people must agree contractually to set up society and to collectively and reciprocally give up all the rights they have against one another in the State of Nature. People must invest authority and power in one person or group of persons to enforce the initial contract. To escape from the State of Nature, they must both agree to live together under common laws, and create an enforcement mechanism for the social contract and the laws that constitute it. Since the sovereign (one person or group of people) is given the authority and power to punish citizens for any breaches of contract, then citizens will have reason to comply with societys moral codes and justice in particular.

8 Hobbes … Living under the authority of the sovereign can be difficult but in order for the social contract to be successful, the sovereign must have absolute authority because thats better than living in a chaotic and nasty state of nature. No matter how much we object to how badly a Sovereign manages the affairs of state and regulates our own lives, we are never justified in resisting the Sovereigns power because it is the only thing which stands between us and what we most want to avoid, the State of Nature.

9 Locke and Rousseau John Lockes writings followed those of Hobbes 37 years later; he argued that if the government fails to keep its side of the contract, then the people have the right to resist. And Rousseau, writing 50 years after Locke argued that the free exchange of natural autonomy for protection and participation in socially regulated government could only be achieved through direct participatory democracy, thus introducing the idea of directly electing our representatives.

10 Social Contract Different theories reflect desire to base legitimacy of government on choice of people governed Emerged from increasing importance in 17 th and 18 th centuries of contracts in commercial transactions Social environment of increasing individualism, secularisation, legalism

11 Critics of social contract theory Governments based on coercion not consent (Hume, Bentham, Paine) Run for the benefit of those governing rather than those governed Most governments established by force Claims of women to be recognised as citizens date back to the 18 th century – they were not included in the social contract nor were they regarded as citizens

12 Pateman: the sexual contract The social contract and liberal political theory generates Liberal politics and the political freedom of (male) individuals The sexual subordination of women to men in marriage Social contract creates division between state and civil society Requires sexual contract to maintain patriarchalism

13 Separation of state and civil society Separation of political power from paternal power masculine right over women is declared non- political (Pateman, 1988:90) Original contract wasnt only a social contract establishing freedom, was also a sexual contract perpetuating domination Established mens political right over women through conjugal right

14 Public vs private Contract theorists created division between public sphere of civil freedom and private sphere of family Pateman argues that women not party to the original contract, theyre the subject of the contract Civil society referred to as the private sphere in opposition to public sphere of state Family, where women are subordinated, is forgotten

15 Pateman Exclusion of family and domestic arena not accidental – structural and systematic Denial of political significance of sexual and marital dominance suggests patriarchy of no relevance to public domain What social and political forces confined women to family and allowed men freedom of movement between private and public?

16 Important concepts 1. Possessive individualism 2. Contract, equality and subordination 1. Free men are individuals who own property rights in their own persons and can enter into contracts. Only men have rationality, independence and ownership of property in their own persons. Women naturally inferior to men and lack ability to engage in rational, independent thought. Theyre not born free (as men are). Do not have ownership of property in their own person. Cannot be possessive individuals.

17 Marriage contract If women lack capacities to make contracts how can they enter the marriage contract? Male sex right based on coercion Women do not have same civil status as men In 19 th century married women were the property of their husbands Husband and wife one person and that person was the husband Today rape in marriage outlawed in UK but not in some states in US

18 Sexual difference the construction of sexual difference as political difference is central to civil society (Pateman, 1998:16).

19 Contract, equality and subordination Contract cant be understood as voluntary agreement between free and equal individuals E.g. employers and employees unequal in terms of economic constraints, women and men unequal in terms of family constraints Social contract creates political right in form of domination and subordination

20 Political fiction Contracts claim to regulate voluntary and free exchange of services between individuals who own property in their own persons and capabilities Exchangers are free individuals We cannot contract out our services and capacities, while leaving ourselves free (Diana Coole, 1990)

21 Challenging exclusions The personal is political - slogan Sexual contract not confined to private sphere It is about: Institutionalising heterosexuality Defining women as embodied sexual beings How men claim rights of access and control over womens bodies

22 Judith Squires Integrationist approach Transformational approach Displacement or politicisation approach

23 Integrationist approach Aims to include women in current political forms Women recognised as independent, autonomous, rational, possessive individuals Gender neutral politics Women and femininity identified as problem

24 Transformationist approach Change politics so its more woman friendly Reconfigure political arena Emphasises gender difference, recognises it, takes account of difference Men and masculinity are the problem Pateman adopts this approach – also Nancy Fraser

25 Displacement/ politicisation Attempts to deconstruct gender Way gender is constructed is the problem Reorganise public/ private division in less patriarchal ways

26 Conclusions Political theory is highly gendered, political practice resistant to womens inclusion Womens exclusion from politics and political theory is both gendered and political – requires explanation Sexual contract provides basis for the social contract, excludes women from full political and sexual citizenship


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